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Stand up Morning Meetings

April 10, 2017


How the workday gets started varies greatly from one workplace to the next.


One of the most common and highly effective ways is the short stand-up morning meeting, but only when done right.


They are known by any number of names…production, ops or safety meeting, huddle, kickoff or scrum or even as I heard recently the Marley Meeting referring to the Bob Marley song “Get Up Stand Up” which actually plays in some workplaces as a signal that the morning meeting is about to begin.


One of the best bosses I ever had, routinely though not necessarily everyday, would meander over to where all his direct reports were gathering their early morning coffee or water and would (unbeknownst to us) conduct a covert morning meeting where we would all end up checking in on what we were all up to for the day or the week. Completely haphazard, but that morning get together, he later confided, was a critical way for him to connect with what we were all doing and enabled him to subtly direct or redirect priorities. Not all morning meetings are as inconspicuous.


My boss’s objective was to simply have us all check in with him and each other. Others have a variety of objectives that meet any number of needs.


I conducted a very unscientific survey during several of my workshops and here are some of the insights I gleamed: 

* A clear objective is critical.

Decide if the meeting is for status updates, to gather small improvement ideas or to sync team members on what each other is working on and how they can be helpful to each other.  Are the meetings to update the boss or, as is the case in safety sensitive environments, to principally hold a safety meeting with reminders and some learning to keep people safe. 
* The meeting should be limited to 5-10 and definitely less that 15 minutes.

Anything longer and storytelling and problem solving complete with the requisite discussions will come into play. That is better left to other meeting formats better suited for debate and consensus reaching.


*  A simple repeatable agenda is key.

Some will limit it to what are their priorities for the day, others will comment on what they accomplished yesterday, what is the focus today and what are the obstacles. Production or sales environments will often review data or quality issues from the day before, look at today’s targets and remind and teach about safety or customer service. Strong leaders ensure morning get-togethers close with inclusive and informative announcements and “feel good” messages of reward and recognition. 


* Who leads, who speaks, and how the energy level flows matters.

Many do a round robin format, others rotate who the facilitator is from week to week and others use a “talking stick” format where the last speaker gives the stick (or ball or plush toy) to the next speaker to keep everyone on their toes. Some use the last to arrive at the standup, first to speak format to ensure punctuality. Standups are more effective when many are involved and its not the boss’s meeting.


* Periodic evaluation and reviews ...

... of how the stand-up meeting is working for people, what improvements need to be made to ensure it is helpful and useful is as critical for these short meetings as it is for all meetings.


One workplace I am familiar with evaluates and tweaks the format quarterly to keep it relevant, another has an appointed meeting monitor who is observing and then reporting on how engaged people are, who interrupts who and what happens and which items seem to get a response versus those that sap peoples energy.


Starting a stand-up morning meeting may elicit criticism or comparison to that large US retailer known for their corporate cheers and exercises before hitting the sales floor. Each workplace culture can benefit from a morning get together as long as it meets their needs and respects their culture. 

They can provide a great upbeat start to the day, enable improvements, ensure people are focused on the right things, provide needed status updates and offer a great opportunity for informal recognition and team building. You might want to make the calisthenics optional.    



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